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Manon Lescaut by the Abbe Prevost

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Why did he love her? Curious fool, be still!
Is human love the fruit of human will?


Just about six months before my departure for Spain, I first met
the Chevalier des Grieux. Though I rarely quitted my retreat,
still the interest I felt in my child's welfare induced me
occasionally to undertake short journeys, which, however, I took
good care to abridge as much as possible.

I was one day returning from Rouen, where I had been, at her
request, to attend a cause then pending before the Parliament of
Normandy, respecting an inheritance to which I had claims derived
from my maternal grandfather. Having taken the road by Evreux,
where I slept the first night, I on the following day, about
dinner-time, reached Passy, a distance of five or six leagues. I
was amazed, on entering this quiet town, to see all the
inhabitants in commotion. They were pouring from their houses in
crowds, towards the gate of a small inn, immediately before which
two covered vans were drawn up. Their horses still in harness,
and reeking from fatigue and heat, showed that the cortege had
only just arrived. I stopped for a moment to learn the cause of
the tumult, but could gain little information from the curious
mob as they rushed by, heedless of my enquiries, and hastening
impatiently towards the inn in the utmost confusion. At length
an archer of the civic guard, wearing his bandolier, and carrying
a carbine on his shoulder, appeared at the gate; so, beckoning
him towards me, I begged to know the cause of the uproar.
"Nothing, sir," said he, "but a dozen of the frail sisterhood,
that I and my comrades are conducting to Havre-de-Grace, whence
we are to ship them for America. There are one or two of them
pretty enough; and it is that, apparently, which attracts the
curiosity of these good people."

I should have passed on, satisfied with this explanation, if my
attention had not been arrested by the cries of an old woman, who
was coming out of the inn with her hands clasped, and exclaiming:

"A downright barbarity!--A scene to excite horror and
compassion!" "What may this mean?" I enquired. "Oh! sir; go
into the house yourself," said the woman, and see if it is not a
sight to rend your heart!" Curiosity made me dismount; and
leaving my horse to the care of the ostler, I made my way with
some difficulty through the crowd, and did indeed behold a scene
sufficiently touching.

Among the twelve girls, who were chained together by the waist in
two rows, there was one, whose whole air and figure seemed so
ill-suited to her present condition, that under other
circumstances I should not have hesitated to pronounce her a
person of high birth. Her excessive grief, and even the
wretchedness of her attire, detracted so little from her
surpassing beauty, that at first sight of her I was inspired with
a mingled feeling of respect and pity.

She tried, as well as the chain would permit her, to turn herself
away, and hide her face from the rude gaze of the spectators.
There was something so unaffected in the effort she made to
escape observation, that it could but have sprung from natural
and innate modesty alone.

As the six men who escorted the unhappy train were together in
the room, I took the chief one aside and asked for information
respecting this beautiful girl. All that he could supply was of
the most vague kind. "We brought her," he said, "from the
Hospital, by order of the lieutenant-general of police. There is
no reason to suppose that she was shut up there for good conduct.

I have questioned her often upon the road; but she persists in
refusing even to answer me. Yet, although I received no orders
to make any distinction between her and the others, I cannot help
treating her differently, for she seems to me somewhat superior
to her companions. Yonder is a young man," continued the
archer, "who can tell you, better than I can, the cause of her
misfortunes. He has followed her from Paris, and has scarcely dried
his tears for a single moment. He must be either her brother or
her lover."

I turned towards the corner of the room, where this young man was
seated. He seemed buried in a profound reverie. Never did I
behold a more affecting picture of grief. He was plainly
dressed; but one may discover at the first glance a man of birth
and education. As I approached him he rose, and there was so
refined and noble an expression in his eyes, in his whole
countenance, in his every movement, that I felt an involuntary
impulse to render him any service in my power. "I am unwilling
to intrude upon your sorrows," said I, taking a seat beside him,
"but you will, perhaps, gratify the desire I feel to learn
something about that beautiful girl, who seems little formed by
nature for the miserable condition in which she is placed."

He answered me candidly, that he could not communicate her
history without making himself known, and that he had urgent
reasons for preserving his own incognito. "I may, however, tell
you this much, for it is no longer a secret to these wretches,"
he continued, pointing to the guards,--"that I adore her with a
passion so ardent and absorbing as to render me the most unhappy
of human beings. I tried every means at Paris to effect her
liberty. Petitions, artifice, force--all failed. Go where
she may, I have resolved to follow her--to the extremity of the
world. I shall embark with her and cross to America.

But think of the brutal inhumanity of these cowardly ruffians,"
he added, speaking of the guards; "they will not allow me to
approach her! I had planned an open attack upon them some
leagues from Paris; having secured, as I thought, the aid of four
men, who for a considerable sum hired me their services. The
traitors, however, left me to execute my scheme single-handed,
and decamped with my money. The impossibility of success made me
of course abandon the attempt, I then implored of the guards
permission to follow in their train, promising them a recompense.
The love of money procured their consent; but as they required
payment every time I was allowed to speak to her, my purse was
speedily emptied; and now that I am utterly penniless, they are
barbarous enough to repulse me brutally, whenever I make the
slightest attempt to approach her. It is but a moment since,
that venturing to do so, in spite of their threats, one of the
fellows raised the butt-end of his musket. I am now driven by
their exactions to dispose of the miserable horse that has
brought me hither, and am preparing to continue the journey on foot."

Although he seemed to recite this story tranquilly enough, I
observed the tears start to his eyes as he concluded. This
adventure struck me as being not less singular than it was
affecting. "I do not press you," said I to him, to make me the
confidant of your secrets; but if I can be of use to you in any
way, I gladly tender you my services." "Alas!" replied he,
"I see not the slightest ray of hope. I must reconcile myself
to my destiny in all its rigour. I shall go to America: there,
at least, I may be free to live with her I love. I have written
to a friend, who will send me money to Havre-de-Grace. My only
difficulty is to get so far, and to supply that poor creature,"
added he, as he cast a look of sorrow at his mistress, "with
some few comforts upon the way." "Well!" said I to him, "I
shall relieve you from that difficulty. Here is some money, of
which I entreat your acceptance: I am only sorry that I can be of
no greater service to you."

I gave him four louis-d'ors without being perceived by the
guards; for I thought that if they knew he had this money, they
might have raised the price of their concessions. It occurred to
me, even, to come to an understanding with them, in order to
secure for the young man the privilege of conversing with his
mistress, during the rest of the journey to Havre, without
hindrance. I beckoned the chief to approach, and made the
proposition to him. It seemed to abash the ruffian, in spite of
his habitual effrontery. "It is not, sir," said he, in an
embarrassed tone, "that we refuse to let him speak to the girl,
but he wishes to be always near her, which puts us to
inconvenience; and it is just that we should be paid for the
trouble he occasions." "Let us see!" said I to him, "what
would suffice to prevent you from feeling the inconvenience?"
He had the audacity to demand two louis. I gave them
to him on the spot. "But have a care," said I to him,
"that we have no foul play: for I shall give the young man my
address, in order that he may write to me on his arrival; and be
assured that I am not without the power to punish you." It cost
me altogether six louis-d'ors.

The graceful manner and heartfelt gratitude with which the young
unknown thanked me, confirmed my notion that he was of good birth
and merited my kindness. I addressed a few words to his mistress
before I left the room. She replied to me with a modesty so
gentle and so charming that I could not help making, as I went
out, a thousand reflections upon the incomprehensible character
of women.

Returned to my retreat, I remained in ignorance of the result of
this adventure; and ere two years had passed, it was completely
blotted from my recollection, when chance brought me an
opportunity of learning all the circumstances from beginning to

I arrived at Calais, from London, with my pupil, the Marquis of
----. We lodged, if I remember rightly, at the "Golden Lion,"
where, for some reason, we were obliged to spend the following
day and night. Walking along the streets in the afternoon, I
fancied I saw the same young man whom I had formerly met at
Passy. He was miserably dressed, and much paler than when I
first saw him. He carried on his arm an old portmanteau, having
only just arrived in the town. However, there was an expression
in his countenance too amiable not to be easily recognised, and
which immediately brought his features to my recollection.
"Observe that young man,"said I to the Marquis; "we must
accost him."

His joy was beyond expression when, in his turn, he recognised

"Ah, sir!" he cried, kissing my hand, "I have then once again
an opportunity of testifying my eternal gratitude to you!" I
enquired of him whence he came. He replied, that he had just
arrived, by sea, from Havre, where he had lately landed from
America. "You do not seem to be too well off for money," said
I to him; "go on to the `Golden Lion,' where I am lodging; I
will join you in a moment."

I returned, in fact, full of impatience to learn the details of
his misfortunes, and the circumstances of his voyage to America.
I gave him a thousand welcomes, and ordered that they should
supply him with everything he wanted. He did not wait to be
solicited for the history of his life. "Sir," said he to me,
"your conduct is so generous, that I should consider it base
ingratitude to maintain any reserve towards you. You shall learn
not only my misfortunes and sufferings, but my faults and most
culpable weaknesses. I am sure that, even while you blame me,
you will not refuse me your sympathy."

I should here inform the reader that I wrote down the story
almost immediately after hearing it; and he may, therefore, be
assured of the correctness and fidelity of the narrative. I use
the word fidelity with reference to the substance of reflections
and sentiments, which the young man conveyed in the most graceful
language. Here, then, is his story, which in its progress I
shall not encumber with a single observation that was not his own.


I loved Ophelia! forty thousand brothers
Could not, with all their quantity of love,
Make up my sum.


"I was seventeen years old, and was finishing my studies at
Amiens, whither my parents, who belonged to one of the first
families in Picardy, had sent me. I led a life so studious and
well regulated, that my masters pointed to me as a model of
conduct for the other scholars. Not that I made any
extraordinary efforts to acquire this reputation, but my
disposition was naturally tractable and tranquil; my inclinations
led me to apply to study; and even the natural dislike I felt for
vice was placed to my credit as positive proof of virtue. The
successful progress of my studies, my birth, and some external
advantages of person, made me a general favourite with the
inhabitants of the town.

"I completed my public exercises with such general approbation,
that the bishop of the diocese, who was present, proposed to me
to enter the church, where I could not fail, he said, to acquire
more distinction than in the Order of Malta, for which my parents
had destined me. I was already decorated with the Cross, and
called the Chevalier des Grieux. The vacation having arrived, I
was preparing to return to my father, who had promised to send me
soon to the Academy.

"My only regret on quitting Amiens arose from parting with a
friend, some years older than myself, to whom I had always been
tenderly attached. We had been brought up together; but from the
straitened circumstances of his family, he was intended to take
orders, and was to remain after me at Amiens to complete the
requisite studies for his sacred calling. He had a thousand good
qualities. You will recognise in him the very best during the
course of my history, and above all, a zeal and fervour of
friendship which surpass the most illustrious examples of
antiquity. If I had at that time followed his advice, I should
have always continued a discreet and happy man. If I had even
taken counsel from his reproaches, when on the brink of that gulf
into which my passions afterwards plunged me, I should have been
spared the melancholy wreck of both fortune and reputation. But
he was doomed to see his friendly admonitions disregarded; nay,
even at times repaid by contempt from an ungrateful wretch, who
often dared to treat his fraternal conduct as offensive and

"I had fixed the day for my departure from Amiens. Alas! that I
had not fixed it one day sooner! I should then have carried to
my father's house my innocence untarnished.

"The very evening before my expected departure, as I was walking
with my friend, whose name was Tiberge, we saw the Arras
diligence arrive, and sauntered after it to the inn, at which
these coaches stop. We had no other motive than curiosity. Some
worn men alighted, and immediately retired into the inn. One
remained behind: she was very young, and stood by herself in the
court, while a man of advanced age, who appeared to have charge
of her, was busy in getting her luggage from the vehicle. She
struck me as being so extremely beautiful, that I, who had never
before thought of the difference between the sexes, or looked on
woman with the slightest attention--I, whose conduct had been
hitherto the theme of universal admiration, felt myself, on the
instant, deprived of my reason and self-control. I had been
always excessively timid, and easily disconcerted; but now,
instead of meeting with any impediment from this weakness, I
advanced without the slightest reserve towards her, who had thus
become, in a moment, the mistress of my heart.

"Although younger than myself, she received my civilities
without embarrassment. I asked the cause of her journey to
Amiens, and whether she had any acquaintances in the town. She
ingenuously told me that she had been sent there by her parents,
to commence her novitiate for taking the veil. Love had so
quickened my perception, even in the short moment it had been
enthroned, that I saw in this announcement a death-blow to my
hopes. I spoke to her in a way that made her at once understand
what was passing in my mind; for she had more experience than
myself. It was against her consent that she was consigned to a
convent, doubtless to repress that inclination for pleasure which
had already become too manifest, and which caused, in the sequel,
all her misfortunes and mine. I combated the cruel intention of
her parents with all the arguments that my new-born passion and
schoolboy eloquence could suggest. She affected neither
austerity nor reserve. She told me, after a moment's silence,
that she foresaw too clearly, what her unhappy fate must be; but
that it was, apparently, the will of Heaven, since there were no
means left her to avert it. The sweetness of her look, the air
of sorrow with which she pronounced these words, or rather
perhaps the controlling destiny which led me on to ruin, allowed
me not an instant to weigh my answer. I assured her that if she
would place reliance on my honour, and on the tender interest
with which she had already inspired me, I would sacrifice my life
to deliver her from the tyranny of her parents, and to render her
happy. I have since been a thousand times astonished in
reflecting upon it, to think how I could have expressed myself
with so much boldness and facility; but love could never have
become a divinity, if he had not often worked miracles.

"I made many other pressing and tender speeches; and my unknown
fair one was perfectly aware that mine was not the age for
deceit. She confessed to me that if I could see but a reasonable
hope of being able to effect her enfranchisement, she should deem
herself indebted for my kindness in more than life itself could
pay. I repeated that I was ready to attempt anything in her
behalf; but, not having sufficient experience at once to imagine
any reasonable plan of serving her, I did not go beyond this
general assurance, from which indeed little good could arise
either to her or to myself. Her old guardian having by this time
joined us, my hopes would have been blighted, but that she had
tact enough to make amends for my stupidity. I was surprised, on
his approaching us, to hear her call me her cousin, and say,
without being in the slightest degree disconcerted, that as she
had been so fortunate as to fall in with me at Amiens, she would
not go into the convent until the next morning, in order to have
the pleasure of meeting me at supper. Innocent as I was, I at
once comprehended the meaning of this ruse; and proposed that she
should lodge for the night at the house of an innkeeper, who,
after being many years my father's coachman, had lately
established himself at Amiens, and who was sincerely attached to

"I conducted her there myself, at which the old Argus appeared
to grumble a little; and my friend Tiberge, who was puzzled by
the whole scene, followed, without uttering a word. He had not
heard our conversation, having walked up and down the court while
I was talking of love to my angelic mistress. As I had some
doubts of his discretion, I got rid of him, by begging that he
would execute a commission for me. I had thus the happiness, on
arriving at the inn, of entertaining alone the sovereign of my

"I soon learned that I was less a child than I had before
imagined. My heart expanded to a thousand sentiments of
pleasure, of which I had not before the remotest idea. A
delicious consciousness of enjoyment diffused itself through my
whole mind and soul. I sank into a kind of ecstasy, which
deprived me for a time of the power of utterance, and which found
vent only in a flood of tears.

"Manon Lescaut (this she told me was her name) seemed gratified
by the visible effect of her own charms. She appeared to me not
less excited than myself. She acknowledged that she was greatly
pleased with me, and that she should be enchanted to owe to me
her freedom and future happiness. She would insist on hearing
who I was, and the knowledge only augmented her affection; for,
being herself of humble birth, she was flattered by securing for
her lover a man of family.

After many reflections we could discover no other resource than
in flight. To effect this it would be requisite to cheat the
vigilance of Manon's guardian, who required management, although
he was but a servant. We determined, therefore, that, during the
night, I should procure a post-chaise, and return with it at
break of day to the inn, before he was awake; that we should
steal away quietly, and go straight to Paris, where we might be
married on our arrival. I had about fifty crowns in my pocket,
the fruit of my little savings at school; and she had about twice
as much. We imagined, like inexperienced children, that such a
sum could never be exhausted, and we counted, with equal
confidence, upon the success of our other schemes.

"After having supped, with certainly more satisfaction than I
had ever before experienced, I retired to prepare for our
project. All my arrangements were the more easy, because, for
the purpose of returning on the morrow to my father's, my luggage
had been already packed. I had, therefore, no difficulty in
removing my trunk, and having a chaise prepared for five o'clock
in the morning, at which hour the gates of the town would be
opened; but I encountered an obstacle which I was little prepared
for, and which nearly upset all my plans.

"Tiberge, although only three years older than myself, was a
youth of unusually strong mind, and of the best regulated
conduct. He loved me with singular affection. The sight of so
lovely a girl as Manon, my ill-disguised impatience to conduct
her to the inn, and the anxiety I betrayed to get rid of him, had
excited in his mind some suspicions of my passion. He had not
ventured to return to the inn where he had left me, for fear of
my being annoyed at his doing so; but went to wait for me at my
lodgings, where, although it was ten o'clock at night, I found
him on my arrival. His presence annoyed me, and he soon
perceived the restraint which it imposed. `I am certain,' he
said to me, without any disguise, `that you have some plan in
contemplation which you will not confide to me; I see it by your
manner.' I answered him rather abruptly, that I was not bound to
render him an account of all my movements. `Certainly not!' he
replied; `but you have always, hitherto, treated me as a friend,
and that appellation implies a certain degree of confidence and
candour.' He pressed me so much and so earnestly to discover my
secret, that, having never up to that moment felt the slightest
reserve towards him, I confided to him now the whole history of
my passion. He heard it with an appearance of disapprobation,
which made me tremble; and I immediately repented of my
indiscretion, in telling him of my intended elopement. He told
me he was too sincerely my friend not to oppose every obstacle in
his power to such a scheme; that he would first try all other
means of turning me from such a purpose, but that if I refused to
renounce so fatal a resolution, he assuredly would inform some
persons of my intention, who would be able to defeat it. He held
forth upon the subject for a full quarter of an hour, in the most
serious tone, and ended by again threatening to inform against
me, if I did not pledge him my word that I would return to the
paths of discretion and reason.

"I was in despair at having so awkwardly betrayed myself.
However, love having wonderfully sharpened my intellect during
the last two or three hours, I recollected that I had not yet
told him of its being my intention to execute my project on the
following morning, and I at once determined to deceive him by a
little equivocation.

"`Tiberge,' said I to him, `up to the present moment I thought
you were my friend; and I wished to prove it by the test of
confidence. It is true, I am in love; I have not deceived you:
but with regard to my flight, that is a project not to be
undertaken without deliberation. Call for me tomorrow at nine
o'clock: you shall see my mistress, if it be possible, and then
judge whether she is not worthy of any risk or sacrifice on my
part.' He left me, with a thousand protestations of friendship.

I employed the night in preparing for the journey, and on
repairing to the inn at early dawn, I found Manon waiting my
arrival. She was at her window, which looked upon the street,
and perceiving my approach, she came down and opened the door
herself. We took our departure silently, and without creating
the least alarm. She merely brought away a small portion of her
apparel, of which I took charge. The chaise was in readiness,
and we were soon at a distance from the town.

"You will learn in the sequel what was the conduct of Tiberge
when he discovered that I had deceived him; that his zeal to
serve me suffered no diminution; and you will observe to what
lengths his devotion carried him. How ought I to grieve, when I
reflect on the base ingratitude with which his affection was
always repaid!

"We made such speed on our journey that before night we reached
St. Denis. I rode alongside of the chaise, which gave us little
opportunity for conversation, except while changing horses; but
when we found ourselves so near Paris, and out of the reach of
danger, we allowed ourselves time for refreshment, not having
tasted food since we quitted Amiens. Passionately in love as I
felt with Manon, she knew how to convince me that she was equally
so with me. So little did we restrain our fondness, that we had
not even patience to reserve our caresses till we were alone.
The postilions and innkeepers stared at us with wonder, and I
remarked that they appeared surprised at such uncontrollable love
in children of our age.

"Our project of marriage was forgotten at St. Denis; we
defrauded the Church of her rights; and found ourselves united as
man and wife without reflecting on the consequences. It is
certain that with my easy and constant disposition, I should have
been happy for my whole life, if Manon had remained faithful to
me. The more I saw of her, the more I discovered in her new
perfections. Her mind, her heart, her gentleness and beauty,
formed a chain at once so binding and so agreeable, that I could
have found perfect happiness in its enduring influence. Terrible
fatality? that which has been the source of my despair, might,
under a slight change of circumstances, have constituted my
happiness. I find myself the most wretched of mankind, by the
force of that very constancy from which I might have fairly
expected to derive the most serene of human blisses, and the most
perfect recompense of love.

We took a furnished apartment at Paris. in the Rue V----, and, as
it afterwards turned out, to my sorrow, close to the house of M.
de B----, the famous Fermier-general. Three weeks passed, during
which I was so absorbed in my passion, that I never gave a
thought to my family, nor dreamed of the distress which my father
probably felt at my absence. However, as there was yet nothing
of profligacy about me, and as Manon conducted herself with the
strictest propriety, the tranquil life we led served to restore
me by degrees to a sense of duty.

I resolved to effect, if possible, a reconciliation with my
parent. My mistress was to me so perfectly lovable, that I could
not a doubt her power of captivating my father, if I could only
find the means of making him acquainted with her good conduct and
merit. In a word, I relied on obtaining his consent to our
marriage, having given up all idea of accomplishing it without
his approval. I mentioned the project to Manon, and explained to
her that, besides every motive of filial love and duty, the
weightier one of necessity should also have some influence; for
our finances were sadly reduced, and I began to see the folly of
thinking them, as I once did, inexhaustible.

"Manon received the proposition with considerable coldness.
However, the difficulties she made, being apparently the
suggestions of tenderness alone, or as arising from the natural
fear of losing me, if my father, after learning our address,
should refuse his assent to our union, I had not the smallest
suspicion of the cruel blow she was at the very time preparing to
inflict. As to the argument of necessity, she replied that we
had still abundant means of living for some weeks longer, and
that she would then find a resource in the kindness of some
relations in the country, to whom she should write. She tempered
her opposition by caresses so tender and impassioned, that I, who
lived only for her, and who never had the slightest misgiving as
to her love, applauded at once her arguments and her resolutions.

"To Manon I had committed the care of our finances, and the
house-hold arrangements. In a short time, I observed that our
style of living was improved, and that she had treated herself to
more expensive dresses. As I calculated that we could hardly
have at this period more than fifteen or twenty crowns remaining,
I did not conceal my surprise at this mysterious augmentation of
our wealth. She begged of me, with a smile, to give myself no
trouble on that head. `Did I not promise you,' said she, `that I
would find resources?' I loved her too purely to experience the
slightest suspicion.

"One day, having gone out in the afternoon, and told her that I
should not be at home so early as usual, I was astonished, on my
return, at being detained several minutes at the door. Our only
servant was a young girl about our own age. On her letting me in
at last, I asked why she had detained me so long? She replied in
an embarrassed tone, that she did not hear me knock. `I only
knocked once,' said I; `so if you did not hear me, why come to
open the door at all?' This query disconcerted her so visibly,
that losing her presence of mind, she began to cry, assuring me
that it was not her fault; and that her mistress had desired her
not to open the door until M. de B----had had time to go down by
the back staircase. I was so confounded by this information as
to be utterly unable to proceed to our apartment; and was obliged
to leave the house, under the pretext of an appointment. I
desired the girl, therefore, to let her mistress know that I
should return in a few minutes, but on no account to say that she
had spoken to me of M. de B----.

"My horror was so great, that I shed tears as I went along,
hardly knowing from what feeling they flowed. I entered a
coffee-house close by, and placing myself at a table, I buried my
face between my hands, as though I would turn my eyes inward to
ascertain what was passing in my heart. Still, I dared not
recall what I had heard the moment before. I strove to look upon
it as a dream; and was more than once on the point of returning
to my lodgings, determined to attach no importance to what I had

It appeared to me so impossible that Manon could have been
unfaithful, that I feared even to wrong her by a suspicion. I
adored her--that was too certain; I had not on my part given her
more proofs of my love than I had received of hers; why then
should I charge her with being less sincere and constant than
myself? What reason could she have to deceive me? Not three
hours before, she had lavished upon me the most tender caresses,
and had received mine with transport: I knew her heart as
thoroughly as my own. `No, no!' I said, `it is not possible that
Manon can have deceived me. She well knows that I live but for
her; that I adore her: upon that point I can have no reason to be

"Notwithstanding these reflections, the visit of M. de B----,
and his secret departure, gave me some uneasiness. I remembered,
too, the little purchases she had lately made, which seemed
beyond our present means. This looked like the liberality of a
new lover. And the confidence with which she had foretold
resources which were to me unknown? I had some difficulty in
solving these mysteries in as favourable a manner as my heart

"On the other hand, she had been hardly out of my sight since we
entered Paris. However occupied, in our walks, in all our
amusements, she was ever at my side. Heavens! even a momentary
separation would have been too painful. I could not therefore
imagine how Manon could, to any other person, have devoted a
single instant.

"At last I thought I had discovered a clue to the mystery. `M.
de B----' said I to myself, `is a man extensively engaged in
commercial affairs; and Manon's relations have no doubt remitted
her money through his house. She has probably already received
some from him, and he is come today to bring her more. She
wishes, perhaps, to derive amusement by and by, from an agreeable
surprise, by keeping me at present in the dark. She would
doubtless have at once told me all, if I had gone in as usual,
instead of coming here to distress myself: at all events, she
will not conceal it from me when I broach the subject myself.'

"I cherished this idea so willingly, that it considerably
lightened my grief. I immediately returned to my lodgings, and
embraced Manon as tenderly as ever. She received me as usual.
At first I was tempted to mention my conjectures, which I now,
more than ever, looked upon as certain; but I restrained myself
in the hope that she might render it unnecessary by informing me
of all that had passed.

"Supper was served. Assuming an air of gaiety, I took my seat
at table; but by the light of the candles which were between us,
I fancied I perceived an air of melancholy about the eyes and
countenance of my beloved mistress. The very thought soon damped
my gaiety. I remarked that her looks wore an unusual expression,
and although nothing could be more soft or languishing, I was at
a loss to discover whether they conveyed more of love than of
compassion. I gazed at her with equal earnestness, and she
perhaps had no less difficulty in comprehending from my
countenance what was passing in my heart. "We neither spoke nor
ate. At length I saw tears starting from her beauteous
eyes--perfidious tears! `Oh heavens!' I cried, `my dearest
Manon, why allow your sorrows to afflict you to this degree
without imparting their cause to me?' She answered me only with
sighs, which increased my misery. I arose trembling from my
seat: I conjured her, with all the urgent earnestness of love, to
let me know the cause of her grief: I wept in endeavouring to
soothe her sorrows: I was more dead than alive. A barbarian
would have pitied my sufferings as I stood trembling with grief
and apprehension.

"While my attention was thus confined to her, I heard people
coming upstairs. They tapped gently at the door. Manon gave me
a kiss, and escaping from my arms, quickly entered the boudoir,
turning the key after her. I imagined that, not being dressed to
receive strangers, she was unwilling to meet the persons who had
knocked; I went to let them in.

"I had hardly opened the door, when I found myself seized by
three men, whom I recognised as my father's servants. They
offered not the least violence, but two of them taking me by the
arms, the third examined my pockets, and took out a small knife,
the only weapon I had about me. They begged pardon for the
necessity they were under of treating me with apparent
disrespect; telling me frankly that they were acting by the
orders of my father, and that my eldest brother was in a carriage
below waiting to receive me. My feelings were so overpowered,
that I allowed myself to be led away without making either reply
or resistance. I found my brother waiting for me as they had
stated. They placed me by his side, and the coachman immediately
drove, by his orders, towards St. Denis.

My brother embraced me most affectionately, but during our ride,
he uttered not a word, so that, as I was not inclined for
conversation, I had as much leisure as I could desire to reflect
upon my misfortunes.


That we can call these delicate creatures ours,
And not their appetites.


"The whole affair was so involved in obscurity that I could not
see my way even to a reasonable conjecture. I was cruelly
betrayed--that was certain; but by whom? Tiberge first occurred
to me. `Tiberge!' said I, `it is as much as thy life is worth,
if my suspicions turn out to be well founded.' However, I
recollected that he could not by possibility know my abode; and
therefore, he could not have furnished the information. To
accuse Manon was more than my heart was capable of. The unusual
melancholy with which she had lately seemed weighed down, her
tears, the tender kiss she gave me in parting, made it all as yet
a mystery to me. I could only look upon her recent melancholy as
a presentiment of our common misfortune; and while I was
deploring the event which tore me from her, I was credulous
enough to consider her fate as much deserving of pity as my own.

"The result of my reflections was, that I had been seen and
followed in the streets of Paris by some persons of my
acquaintance, who had conveyed the information to my father.
This idea comforted me. I made up my mind to encounter some
reproaches, or perhaps harsh treatment, for having outraged the
paternal authority. I resolved, however, to suffer with
patience, and to promise all that might be required of me, in
order to facilitate my speedy return to Paris, that I might
restore life and happiness to my dear Manon.

"We soon arrived at St. Denis. My brother, surprised at my long
silence, thought it the effect of fear. He assured me that I had
nothing to apprehend from my father's severity, provided I showed
a disposition to return quietly to the path of duty, and prove
myself worthy of his affection. He made me pass the night at St.
Denis, merely taking the precaution of putting the three lackeys
to sleep in my room. It cost me a pang to find myself in the
same inn where I had stopped with Manon on our way from Amiens to
Paris. The innkeeper and his servants recognised me, and guessed
at once the truth of my history. I overheard them say, `Ah!
that's the handsome young gentleman who travelled this road about
a month ago, with the beautiful girl he appeared so much in love
with! How pretty she was! The poor young things, how they
caressed each other! Pity if they have been separated!' I
pretended not to hear, and kept as much out of sight as possible.

"At St. Denis my brother had a chariot waiting for us, in which
we started early the next morning, and arrived at home before

He saw my father first, in order to make a favourable impression
by telling him how quietly I had allowed myself to be brought
away, so that his reception of me was less austere than I had
expected. He merely rebuked me in general terms for the offence
I had committed, by absenting myself without his permission. As
for my mistress, he said I richly deserved what had happened to
me, for abandoning myself to a person utterly unknown; that he
had entertained a better opinion of my discretion; but that he
hoped this little adventure would make me wiser. I took the
whole lecture only in the sense that accorded with my own
notions. I thanked my father for his indulgence, and promised
that I would in future observe a better regulated and more
obedient course of conduct. I felt that I had secured a triumph;
for, from the present aspect of affairs, there was no doubt that
I should be free to effect my escape from the house even before
the night was over.

"We sat down to supper. They rallied me about my Amiens
conquest, and my flight with that paragon of fidelity. I took
their jokes in good part, glad enough at being permitted to
revolve in my mind the plans I had meditated; but some words
which fell from my father made me listen with earnest attention.
He spoke of perfidy, and the not disinterested kindness he had
received at the hands of M. de B----. I was almost paralysed on
hearing the name, and begged of my father to explain himself. He
turned to my brother, to ask if he had not told me the whole
story. My brother answered, that I appeared to him so tranquil
upon the road, that he did not suppose I required this remedy to
cure me of my folly. I remarked that my father was doubtful
whether he should give me the explanation or not. I entreated
him so earnestly that he satisfied me, or I should rather say
tortured me, with the following most horrible narration.

"He began by asking me whether I was really simple enough to
believe that I had been really loved by the girl. I told him
confidently that I was perfectly sure of it, and that nothing
could make me for a moment doubt it. `Ha, ha, ha!' said he, with
a loud laugh; `that is excellent! you are a pretty dupe!
Admirable idea! 'Twould be a thousand pities, my poor chevalier,
to make you a Knight of Malta, with all the requisites you
possess for a patient and accommodating husband.' He continued
in the same tone to ridicule what he was pleased to call my
dullness and credulity.

"He concluded, while I maintained a profound silence, by saying
that, according to the nicest calculation he could make of the
time since my departure from Amiens, Manon must have been in love
with me about twelve days; `for,' said he, `I know that you left
Amiens on the 28th of last month; this is, the 29th of the
present; it is eleven days since M. de B---- wrote to me; I
suppose he required eight days to establish a perfect
understanding with your mistress; so that, take eight and eleven
from thirty-one days, the time between the 28th of one month and
the 29th of the next, there remains twelve, more or less!' This
joke war, followed by shouts of laughter.

"I heard it all with a kind of sinking of the heart that I
thought I could not bear up against, until he finished. `You
must know then,' continued my father, `since you appear as yet
ignorant of it, that M. de B---- has won the affections of your
idol; for he can't be serious in pretending that it is his
disinterested regard for me that has induced him to take her from
you. It would be absurd to expect such noble sentiments from a
man of his description, and one, besides, who is a perfect
stranger to me. He knew that you were my son, and in order to
get rid of you, he wrote to inform me of your abode, and of the
life you led; saying, at the same time, that strong measures
would be necessary to secure you.

He offered to procure me the means of laying hold of you; and it
was by his direction, as well as that of your mistress herself,
that your brother hit upon the moment for catching you unawares.
Now, you may congratulate yourself upon the duration of your
triumph. You know how to conquer, rapid enough; but you have yet
to learn how to secure your conquests.'

"I could no longer endure these remarks, every one of which
struck a dagger to my heart. I arose from the table, and had not
advanced four steps towards the door, when I fell upon the floor,
perfectly senseless. By prompt applications they soon brought me
to myself. My eyes opened only to shed a torrent of tears, and
my lips to utter the most sorrowful and heartrending complaints.
My father, who always loved me most affectionately, tried every
means to console me. I listened to him, but his words were
without effect. I threw myself at his feet, in the attitude of
prayer, conjuring him to let me return to Paris, and destroy the
monster B----. `No!'cried I; `he has not gained Manon's heart;
he may have seduced her by charms, or by drugs; he may have even
brutally violated her. Manon loves me. Do I not know that well?
He must have terrified her with a poniard, to induce her to
abandon me.' What must he not have done to have robbed me of my
angelic mistress? Oh Heaven! Heaven! can it be possible that
Manon deceived me, or that she has ceased to love me!

"As I continued to rave about returning at once to Paris, and
was perpetually starting up with that purpose, my father clearly
saw that while the paroxysm lasted, no arguments could pacify me.
He conducted me to one of the upper rooms, and left two servants
to keep constant watch over me. I was completely bewildered. I
would have given a thousand lives to be but for one quarter of an
hour in Paris. I had sense enough, however, to know that having
so openly declared my intention, they would not easily allow me
to quit my chamber. I looked at the height of the windows.
Seeing no possibility of escaping that way, I addressed the
servants in the most tranquil tone. I promised, with the most
solemn vows, to make at some future day their fortunes, if they
would but consent to my escape. I entreated them; I tried
caresses, and lastly threats; but all were unavailing. I gave
myself up to despair. I resolved to die; and threw myself upon
the bed, with a firm determination to quit it only with my life.
In this situation I passed the night and the following day. I
refused the nourishment that was brought to me next morning.

"My father came to see me in the afternoon. He tried in the
most affectionate manner, to soothe my grief. He desired me so
urgently to take some refreshment, that, to gratify him, I obeyed
his wishes. Several days passed, during which I took nothing but
in his presence, and at his special request. He continued to
furnish new arguments to restore me to my proper senses, and to
inspire me with merited contempt for the faithless Manon. I
certainly had lost all esteem for her: how could I esteem the
most fickle and perfidious of created beings! But her
image--those exquisite features, which were engraven on my
heart's core, were still uneffaced. I understood my own
feelings: `I may die,' said I, `and I ought to die after so much
shame and grief; but I might suffer a thousand deaths without
being able to forget the ingrate Manon.'

"My father was surprised at my still continuing so powerfully
affected. He knew that I was imbued with the principles of
honour; and not doubting that her infidelity must make me despise
her, fancied that my obstinacy proceeded less from this
particular passion, than from a general inclination towards the
sex. This idea so took possession of his mind, that, prompted
only by his affection for me, he came one day to reveal his
thoughts. `Chevalier,' said he to me, `it has been hitherto my
intention to make you bear the Cross of Malta: I now see that
your inclinations do not bend that way. You are an admirer of
beauty. I shall be able to find you a wife to your taste. Let
me candidly know how you feel upon the subject.'

"I answered that I could never again see the slightest
difference amongst women, and that after the misfortune I had
experienced, I detested them all equally. `I will find you one,'
replied my father, smiling, `who shall resemble Manon in beauty,
but who shall be more faithful.' `Ah! if you have any mercy,'
said I, `you will restore my Manon to me. Be assured, my dear
father, that she has not betrayed me; she is incapable of such
base and cruel treachery. It is the perfidious B---- who
deceives both her and me. If you could form an idea of her
tenderness and her sincerity--if you only knew her, you yourself
would love her!' `You are absolutely a child,' replied my
father. `How can you so delude yourself, after what I have told
you about her? It was she who actually delivered you up to your
brother. You ought to obliterate even her name from your memory,
and take advantage, if you are wise, of the indulgence I am
showing you.'

"I very clearly perceived that my father was right. It was an
involuntary emotion that made me thus take part with the traitor.
`Alas!' replied I, after a moment's silence, `it is but too true
that I am the unhappy victim of the vilest perfidy. Yes,' I
continued, while shedding tears of anger, `I too clearly perceive
that I am indeed but a child. Credulity like mine was easily
gulled; but I shall be at no loss to revenge myself.' My father
enquired of me my intentions: `I will go to Paris,' I said, `set
fire to B----'s house, and immolate him and the perfidious Manon
together.' This burst made my father laugh, and had only the
effect of causing me to be more vigilantly watched in my cell.

I thus passed six long months; during the first of which my mind
underwent little change. My feelings were in a state of
perpetual alternation between hate and love; between hope and
despair; according as, the tendency of each passing thought
brought Manon back to my recollection. At one time, I could see
in her the most delightful of women only, and sigh for the
pleasure of beholding her once more; at another, I felt she was
the most unworthy and perfidious of mistresses, and I would on
these occasions swear never again to seek her, but for the
purpose of revenge.

"I was supplied with books, which served to restore my peace of
mind. I read once again all my favourite authors; and I became
acquainted with new ones. All my former taste for study was
revived. You will see of what use this was to me in the sequel.
The light I had already derived from love, enabled me to
comprehend many passages in Horace and Virgil which had before
appeared obscure. I wrote an amatory commentary upon the fourth
book of the AEneid. I intend one day to publish it, and I
flatter myself it will be popular.

"`Alas!' I used to exclaim, whilst employed on that work, it
was for a heart like mine the faithful Dido sighed, and sighed in


Now, by the strange enchantment that surrounds thee,
There's nothing--nothing thou shalt ask in vain.


"While in my confinement Tiberge came one day to see me. I was
surprised at the affectionate joy with which he saluted me. I
had never, hitherto, observed any peculiar warmth in his
friendship that could lead me to look upon it as anything more
than the partiality common among boys of the same age. He was so
altered, and had grown so manly during the five or six months
since I had last seen him, that his expressive features and his
manner of addressing me inspired me with a feeling of respect.
He spoke more in the character of a mentor than a schoolfellow,
lamented the delusion into which I had fallen, congratulated me
on my reformation, which he believed was now sincere, and ended
by exhorting me to profit by my youthful error, and open my eyes
to the vanity of worldly pleasures. I looked at him with some
astonishment, which he at once perceived.

"`My dear chevalier,' said he to me, `you shall hear nothing
but the strict truth, of which I have assured myself by the most
serious examination. I had, perhaps, as strong an inclination
for pleasure as you, but Heaven had at the same time, in its
mercy, blessed me with a taste for virtue. I exercised my reason
in comparing the consequences of the one with those of the other,
and the divine aid was graciously vouchsafed to my reflections.
I conceived for the world a contempt which nothing can equal.
Can you guess what it is retains me in it now,' he added, `and
that prevents me from embracing a life of solitude? Simply the
sincere friendship I bear towards you. I know the excellent
qualities of both your heart and head. There is no good of which
you may not render yourself capable. The blandishments of
pleasure have momentarily drawn you aside. What detriment to the
sacred cause of virtue! Your flight from Amiens gave me such
intense sorrow, that I have not since known a moment's happiness.
You may judge of this by the steps it induced me to take.' He
then told me how, after discovering that I had deceived him, and
gone off with my mistress, he procured horses for the purpose of
pursuing me, but having the start of him by four or five hours,
he found it impossible to overtake me; that he arrived, however,
at St. Denis half an hour after I had left it; that, being very
sure that I must have stopped in Paris, he spent six weeks there
in a fruitless endeavour to discover me--visiting every place
where he thought he should be likely to meet me, and that one
evening he at length recognised my mistress at the play, where
she was so gorgeously dressed, that he of course set it down to
the account of some new lover; that he had followed her equipage
to her house, and had there learned from a servant that she was
entertained in this style by M. de B----. `I did not stop here,'
continued he; `I returned next day to the house, to learn from
her own lips what had become of you. She turned abruptly away
when she heard the mention of your name, and I was obliged to
return into the country without further information. I there
learned the particulars of your adventure, and the extreme
annoyance she had caused you; but I was unwilling to visit you
until I could have assurance of your being in a more tranquil

"`You have seen Manon then!' cried I, sighing. `Alas! you are
happier than I, who am doomed never again to behold her.' He
rebuked me for this sigh, which still showed my weakness for the
perfidious girl. He flattered me so adroitly upon the goodness
of my mind and disposition, that he really inspired me, even on
this first visit, with a strong inclination to renounce, as he
had done, the pleasures of the world, and enter at once into holy

"The idea was so suited to my present frame of mind, that when
alone I thought of nothing else. I remembered the words of the
Bishop of Amiens, who had given me the same advice, and thought
only of the happiness which he predicted would result from my
adoption of such a course. Piety itself took part in these
suggestions. `I shall lead a holy and a Christian life,' said I;
`I shall divide my time between study and religion, which will
allow me no leisure for the perilous pleasures of love. I shall
despise that which men ordinarily admire; and as I am conscious
that my heart will desire nothing but what it can esteem, my
cares will not be greater or more numerous than my wants and

"I thereupon pictured to myself in anticipation a course of life
peaceful and retired. I fancied a retreat embosomed in a wood,
with a limpid stream of running water bounding my garden; a
library, comprising the most select works; a limited circle of
friends, virtuous and intellectual; a table neatly served, but
frugal and temperate. To all these agremens I added a literary
correspondence with a friend whose residence should be in Paris,
who should give me occasional information upon public affairs,
less for the gratification of my curiosity, than to afford a kind
of relaxation by hearing of and lamenting the busy follies of
men. `Shall not I be happy?' added I; `will not my utmost wishes
be thus gratified?' This project flattered my inclinations
extremely. But after all the details of this most admirable and
prudent plan, I felt that my heart still yearned for something;
and that in order to leave nothing to desire in this most
enchanting retirement, one ought to be able to share it with

"However, Tiberge continuing to pay me frequent visits in order
to strengthen me in the purpose with which he had inspired me, I
took an opportunity of opening the subject to my father. He
declared that his intention ever was to leave his children free
to choose a profession, and that in whatever manner I should
dispose of myself, all he wished to reserve was the right of
aiding me with his counsel. On this occasion he gave me some of
the wisest, which tended less to divert me from my project, than
to convince me of my good father's sound judgment and discretion.

The recommencement of the scholastic year being at hand, Tiberge
and I agreed to enter ourselves together at St. Sulpice, he to
pursue his theological studies, and I to begin mine. His merits,
which were not unknown to the bishop of the diocese, procured him
the promise of a living from that prelate before our departure.

"My father, thinking me quite cured of my passion, made no
objection to my taking final leave. We arrived at Paris. The
Cross of Malta gave place to the ecclesiastical habit, and the
designation of the Abbe de Grieux was substituted for that of
chevalier. I applied so diligently to study, that in a few
months I had made extraordinary progress. I never lost a moment
of the day, and employed even part of the night. I soon acquired
such a reputation, that I was already congratulated upon the
honours which I was sure of obtaining; and, without solicitation
on my part, my name was inscribed on the list for a vacant
benefice. Piety was by no means neglected, and I entered with
ardent devotion into all the exercises of religion. Tiberge was
proud of what he considered the work of his own hands, and many a
time have I seen him shed tears of delight in noticing what he
styled my perfect conversion.

"It has never been matter of wonder to me that human resolutions
are liable to change; one passion gives them birth, another may
destroy them; but when I reflect upon the sacredness of those
motives that led me to St. Sulpice, and upon the heartfelt
satisfaction I enjoyed while obeying their dictation, I shudder
at the facility with which I outraged them all. If it be true
that the benign succour afforded by Heaven is at all times equal
to the strongest of man's pinions, I shall be glad to learn the
nature of the deplorable ascendancy which causes us suddenly to
swerve from the path of duty, without the power of offering the
least resistance, and without even the slightest visitation of

"I now thought myself entirely safe from the dangers of love. I
fancied that I could have preferred a single page of St.
Augustine, or a quarter of an hour of Christian meditation, to
every sensual gratification, not excepting any that I might have
derived even from Manon's society. Nevertheless, one unlucky
moment plunged me again headlong into the gulf; and my ruin was
the more irreparable, because, falling at once to the same depth
from whence I had been before rescued, each of the new disorders
into which I now lapsed carried me deeper and deeper still down
the profound abyss of vice. I had passed nearly a year at Paris
without hearing of Manon. It cost me no slight effort to abstain
from enquiry; but the unintermitting advice of Tiberge, and my
own reflections, secured this victory over my wishes. The last
months glided away so tranquilly, that I considered the memory of
this charming but treacherous creature about to be consigned to
eternal oblivion.

"The time arrived when I was to undergo a public examination in
the class of theology: I invited several persons of
consideration to honour me with their presence on the occasion.
My name was mentioned in every quarter of Paris: it even reached
the ears of her who had betrayed me. She had some difficulty in
recognising it with the prefix of Abbe; but curiosity, or perhaps
remorse for having been faithless to me (I could never after
ascertain by which of these feelings she was actuated), made her
at once take an interest in a name so like mine; and she came
with several other women to the Sorbonne, where she was present
at my examination, and had doubtless little trouble in
recognising my person.

"I had not the remotest suspicion of her presence. It is well
known that in these places there are private seats for ladies,
where they remain screened by a curtain. I returned to St.
Sulpice covered with honours and congratulations. It was six in
the evening. The moment I returned, a lady was announced, who
desired to speak with me. I went to meet her. Heavens! what a

It was Manon. It was she indeed, but more bewitching and
brilliant than I had ever beheld her. She was now in her
eighteenth year. Her beauty beggars all description. The
exquisite grace of her form, the mild sweetness of expression
that animated her features, and her engaging air, made her seem
the very personification of love. The vision was something too
perfect for human beauty.

"I stood like one enchanted at beholding her. Unable to divine
the object of her visit, I waited trembling and with downcast
looks until she explained herself. At first, her embarrassment
was equal to mine; but, seeing that I was not disposed to break
silence, she raised her hand to her eyes to conceal a starting
tear, and then, in a timid tone, said that she well knew she had
justly earned my abhorrence by her infidelity; but that if I had
ever really felt any love for her, there was not much kindness in
allowing two long years to pass without enquiring after her, and
as little now in seeing her in the state of mental distress in
which she was, without condescending to bestow upon her a single
word. I shall not attempt to describe what my feelings were as I
listened to this reproof.

"She seated herself. I remained standing, with my face half
turned aside, for I could not muster courage to meet her look. I
several times commenced a reply without power to conclude it. At
length I made an effort, and in a tone of poignant grief
exclaimed: `Perfidious Manon! perfidious, perfidious creature!'
She had no wish, she repeated with a flood of tears, to attempt
to justify her infidelity. `What is your wish, then?' cried I.
`I wish to die,' she answered, `if you will not give me back that
heart, without which it is impossible to endure life.' `Take my
life too, then, faithless girl!' I exclaimed, in vain
endeavouring to restrain my tears; `take my life also! it is the
sole sacrifice that remains for me to make, for my heart has
never ceased to be thine.'

"I had hardly uttered these words, when she rose in a transport
of joy, and approached to embrace me. She loaded me with a
thousand caresses. She addressed me by all the endearing
appellations with which love supplies his votaries, to enable
them to express the most passionate fondness. I still answered
with affected coldness; but the sudden transition from a state of
quietude, such as that I had up to this moment enjoyed, to the
agitation and tumult which were now kindled in my breast and
tingled through my veins, thrilled me with a kind of horror, and
impressed me with a vague sense that I was about to undergo some
great transformation, and to enter upon a new existence.

"We sat down close by each other. I took her hand within mine,
`Ah! Manon,' said I, with a look of sorrow, `I little thought
that love like mine could have been repaid with treachery! It
was a poor triumph to betray a heart of which you were the
absolute mistress--whose sole happiness it was to gratify and
obey you. Tell me if among others you have found any so
affectionate and so devoted? No, no! I believe nature has cast
few hearts in the same mould as mine. Tell me at least whether
you have ever thought of me with regret! Can I have any reliance
on the duration of the feeling that has brought you back to me
today? I perceive too plainly that you are infinitely lovelier
than ever: but I conjure you by all my past sufferings, dearest
Manon, to tell me--can you in future be more faithful?'

"She gave me in reply such tender assurances of her repentance,
and pledged her fidelity with such solemn protestations and vows,
that I was inexpressibly affected. `Beauteous Manon,' said I,
with rather a profane mixture of amorous and theological
expressions, `you are too adorable for a created being. I feel
my heart transported with triumphant rapture. It is folly to
talk of liberty at St. Sulpice. Fortune and reputation are but
slight sacrifices at such a shrine! I plainly foresee it: I can
read my destiny in your bright eyes; but what abundant recompense
shall I not find in your affections for any loss I may sustain!
The favours of fortune have no influence over me: fame itself
appears to me but a mockery; all my projects of a holy life were
wild absurdities: in fact, any joys but those I may hope for at
your side are fit objects of contempt. There are none that would
not vanish into worthlessness before one single glance of thine!'

"In promising her, however, a full remission of her past
frailties, I enquired how she permitted herself to be led astray
by B----. She informed me that having seen her at her window, he
became passionately in love with her; that he made his advances
in the true style of a mercantile cit;--that is to say, by giving
her to understand in his letter, that his payments would be
proportioned to her favours; that she had admitted his overtures
at first with no other intention than that of getting from him
such a sum as might enable us to live without inconvenience; but
that he had so bewildered her with splendid promises, that she
allowed herself to be misled by degrees. She added, that I ought
to have formed some notion of the remorse she experienced, by her
grief on the night of our separation; and assured me that, in
spite of the splendour in which he maintained her, she had never
known a moment's happiness with him, not only, she said, because
he was utterly devoid of that delicacy of sentiment and of those
agreeable manners which I possessed, but because even in the
midst of the amusements which he unceasingly procured her, she
could never shake off the recollection of my love, or her own
ingratitude. She then spoke of Tiberge, and the extreme
embarrassment his visit caused her. `A dagger's point,' she
added, `could not have struck more terror to my heart. I turned
from him, unable to sustain the interview for a moment.'

"She continued to inform me how she had been apprised of my
residence at Paris, of the change in my condition, and of her
witnessing my examination at the Sorbonne. She told me how
agitated she had been during my intellectual conflict with the
examiner; what difficulty she felt in restraining her tears as
well as her sighs, which were more than once on the point of
spurning all control, and bursting forth; that she was the last
person to leave the hall of examination, for fear of betraying
her distress, and that, following only the instinct of her own
heart, and her ardent desires, she came direct to the seminary,
with the firm resolution of surrendering life itself, if she
found me cruel enough to withhold my forgiveness.

"Could any savage remain unmoved by such proofs of cordial
repentance as those I had just witnessed? For my part, I felt at
the moment that I could gladly have given up all the bishoprics
in Christendom for Manon. I asked what course she would
recommend in our present emergency. `It is requisite,' she
replied, `at all events, to quit the seminary, and settle in some
safer place.' I consented to everything she proposed. She got
into her carriage to go and wait for me at the corner of the
street. I escaped the next moment, without attracting the
porter's notice. I entered the carriage, and we drove off to a
Jew's. I there resumed my lay-dress and sword. Manon furnished
the supplies, for I was without a sou, and fearing that I might
meet with some new impediment, she would not consent to my
returning to my room at St. Sulpice for my purse. My finances
were in truth wretchedly low, and hers more than sufficiently
enriched by the liberality of M. de B---- to make her think
lightly of my loss. We consulted together at the Jew's as to the
course we should now adopt.

"In order to enhance the sacrifice she had made for me of her
late lover, she determined to treat him without the least
ceremony. `I shall leave him all his furniture,' she said; `it
belongs to him: but I shall assuredly carry off, as I have a
right to do, the jewels, and about sixty thousand francs, which I
have had from him in the last two years. I have given him no
control over me,' she added, `so that we may remain without
apprehension in Paris, taking a convenient house, where we shall
live, oh how happily together!'

"I represented to her that, although there might be no danger
for her, there was a great deal for me, who must be sooner or
later infallibly recognised, and continually exposed to a
repetition of the trials I had before endured. She gave me to
understand that she could not quit Paris without regret. I had
such a dread of giving her annoyance, that there were no risks I
would not have encountered for her sake. However, we compromised
matters by resolving to take a house in some village near Paris,
from whence it would be easy for us to come into town whenever
pleasure or business required it. We fixed on Chaillot, which is
at a convenient distance. Manon at once returned to her house,
and I went to wait for her at a side-gate of the garden of the

"She returned an hour after, in a hired carriage, with a
servant-maid, and several trunks, which contained her dresses,
and everything she had of value.

"We were not long on our way to Chaillot. We lodged the first
night at the inn, in order to have time to find a suitable house,
or at least a commodious lodging. We found one to our taste the
next morning.

"My happiness now appeared to be secured beyond the reach of
fate. Manon was everything most sweet and amiable. She was so
delicate and so unceasing in her attentions to me, that I deemed
myself but too bountifully rewarded for all my past troubles. As
we had both, by this time, acquired some experience, we discussed
rationally the state of our finances. Sixty thousand francs (the
amount of our wealth) was not a sum that could be expected to
last our whole life; besides, we were neither of us much disposed
to control our expenses. Manon's chief virtue assuredly was not
economy, any more than it was mine. This was my proposition.
`Sixty thousand francs,' said I, `may support us for ten years.
Two thousand crowns a year will suffice, if we continue to live
at Chaillot. We shall keep up appearances, but live frugally.
Our only expense will be occasionally a carriage, and the
theatres. We shall do everything in moderation. You like the
opera; we shall go twice a week, in the season. As for play, we
shall limit ourselves; so that our losses must never exceed three
crowns. It is impossible but that in the space of ten years some
change must occur in my family: my father is even now of an
advanced age; he may die; in which event I must inherit a
fortune, and we shall then be above all other fears.'

"This arrangement would not have been by any means the most
silly act of my life, if we had only been prudent enough to
persevere in its execution; but our resolutions hardly lasted
longer than a month. Manon's passion was for amusement; she was
the only object of mine. New temptations to expense constantly
presented themselves, and far from regretting the money which she
sometimes prodigally lavished, I was the first to procure for her
everything likely to afford her pleasure. Our residence at
Chaillot began even to appear tiresome.

"Winter was approaching, and the whole world returning to town;
the country had a deserted look. She proposed to me to take a
house in Paris. I did not approve of this; but, in order partly
at least to satisfy her, I said that we might hire furnished
apartments, and that we might sleep there whenever we were late
in quitting the assembly, whither we often went; for the
inconvenience of returning so late to Chaillot was her excuse for
wishing to leave it. We had thus two dwellings, one in town and
the other in the country. This change soon threw our affairs
into confusion, and led to two adventures, which eventually
caused our ruin.

"Manon had a brother in the Guards. He unfortunately lived in
the very street in which we had taken lodgings. He one day
recognised his sister at the window, and hastened over to us. He
was a fellow of the rudest manners, and without the slightest
principle of honour. He entered the room swearing in the most
horrible way; and as he knew part of his sister's history, he
loaded her with abuse and reproaches.

"I had gone out the moment before, which was doubtless fortunate
for either him or me, for I was little disposed to brook an
insult. I only returned to the lodgings after he had left them.
The low spirits in which I found Manon convinced me at once that
something extraordinary had occurred. She told me of the
provoking scene she had just gone through, and of the brutal
threats of her brother. I felt such indignation, that I wished
to proceed at once to avenge her, when she entreated me with
tears to desist.

"While we were still talking of the adventure, the guardsman
again entered the room in which we sat, without even waiting to
be announced. Had I known him, he should not have met from me as
civil a reception as he did; but saluting us with a smile upon
his countenance, he addressed himself to Manon, and said, he was
come to make excuses for his violence; that he had supposed her
to be living a life of shame and disgrace, and it was this notion
that excited his rage; but having since made enquiry from one of
our servants, he had learned such a character of me, that his
only wish was now to be on terms with us both.

"Although this admission, of having gone for information to one
of my own servants, had in it something ludicrous as well as
indelicate, I acknowledged his compliments with civility, I
thought by doing so to please Manon, and I was not deceived--she
was delighted at the reconciliation. We made him stay to dine
with us.

"In a little time he became so familiar, that hearing us speak
of our return to Chaillot, he insisted on accompanying us. We
were obliged to give him a seat in our carriage. This was in
fact putting him into possession, for he soon began to feel so
much pleasure in our company, that he made our house his home,
and made himself in some measure master of all that belonged to
us. He called me his brother, and, under the semblance of
fraternal freedom, he put himself on such a footing as to
introduce all his friends without ceremony into our house at
Chaillot, and there entertain them at our expense. His
magnificent uniforms were procured of my tailor and charged to
me, and he even contrived to make Manon and me responsible for
all his debts. I pretended to be blind to this system of
tyranny, rather than annoy Manon, and even to take no notice of
the sums of money which from time to time he received from her.
No doubt, as he played very deep, he was honest enough to repay
her a part sometimes, when luck turned in his favour; but our
finances were utterly inadequate to supply, for any length of
time, demands of such magnitude and frequency.

"I was on the point of coming to an understanding with him, in
order to put an end to the system, when an unfortunate accident
saved me that trouble, by involving us in inextricable ruin.

"One night we stopped in Paris to sleep, as it had now indeed
become our constant habit. The servant-maid who on such
occasions remained alone at Chaillot, came early the next morning
to inform me that our house had taken fire in the night, and that
the flames had been extinguished with great difficulty. I asked
whether the furniture had suffered. She answered, that there had
been such confusion, owing to the multitude of strangers who came
to offer assistance, that she could hardly ascertain what damage
had been done. I was principally uneasy about our money, which
had been locked up in a little box. I went off in haste to
Chaillot. Vain hope! the box had disappeared!

"I discovered that one could love money without being a miser.
This loss afflicted me to such a degree that I was almost out of
my mind. I saw at one glance to what new calamities I should be
exposed: poverty was the least of them. I knew Manon thoroughly;
I had already had abundant proof that, although faithful and
attached to me under happier circumstances, she could not be
depended upon in want: pleasure and plenty she loved too well to
sacrifice them for my sake. `I shall lose her!' I cried;
`miserable chevalier! you are about then to lose all that you
love on earth!' This thought agitated me to such a degree that I
actually for some moments considered whether it would not be best
for me to end at once all my miseries by death. I however
preserved presence of mind enough to reflect whether I was
entirely without resource, and an idea occurred to me which
quieted my despair. It would not be impossible, I thought, to
conceal our loss from Manon; and I might perhaps discover some
ways and means of supplying her, so as to ward off the
inconveniences of poverty.

"I had calculated in endeavouring to comfort myself, that twenty
thousand crowns would support us for ten years. Suppose that
these ten years had now elapsed, and that none of the events
which I had looked for in my family had occurred. What then
would have been my course? I hardly know; but whatever I should
then have done, why may I not do now? How many are there in
Paris, who have neither my talents, nor the natural advantages I
possess, and who, notwithstanding, owe their support to the
exercise of their talents, such as they are?

"`Has not Providence,' I added, while reflecting on the
different conditions of life, `arranged things wisely?' The
greater number of the powerful and the rich are fools. No one
who knows anything of the world can doubt that. How admirable is
the compensating justice thereof! If wealth brought with it
talent also, the rich would be too happy, and other men too
wretched. To these latter are given personal advantages and
genius, to help them out of misery and want. Some of them share
the riches of the wealthy by administering to their pleasures, or
by making them their dupes; others afford them instruction, and
endeavour to make them decent members of society; to be sure,
they do not always succeed; but that was probably not the
intention of the divine wisdom. In every case they derive a
benefit from their labours by living at the expense of their
pupils; and, in whatever point of view it is considered, the
follies of the rich are a bountiful source of revenue to the
humbler classes.

"These thoughts restored me a little to my spirits and to my
reason. I determined first to consult M. Lescaut, the brother of
Manon. He knew Paris perfectly; and I had too many opportunities
of learning that it was neither from his own estates, nor from
the king's pay, that he derived the principal portion of his
income. I had about thirty-three crowns left, which I
fortunately happened to have about me. I showed him my purse,
and explained to him my misfortune and my fears, and then asked
him whether I had any alternative between starvation and blowing
out my brains in despair. He coolly replied that suicide was the
resource of fools. As to dying of want, there were hundreds of
men of genius who found themselves reduced to that state when
they would not employ their talents; that it was for myself to
discover what I was capable of doing, and he told me to reckon
upon his assistance and his advice in any enterprise I might

"`Vague enough, M. Lescaut!' said I to him: `my wants demand a
more speedy remedy; for what am I to say to Manon?' `Apropos of
Manon,' replied he, `what is it that annoys you about her?
Cannot you always find in her wherewithal to meet your wants,
when you wish it? Such a person ought to support us all, you and
me as well as herself.' He cut short the answer which I was
about to give to such unfeeling and brutal impertinence, by going
on to say, that before night he would ensure me a thousand crowns
to divide between us, if I would only follow his advice; that he
was acquainted with a nobleman, who was so liberal in affairs of
the kind, that he was certain he would not hesitate for a moment
to give the sum named for the favours of such a girl as Manon.

"I stopped him. `I had a better opinion of you,' said I; `I had
imagined that your motive for bestowing your friendship upon me
was very different indeed from the one you now betray.' With the
greatest effrontery he acknowledged that he had been always of
the same mind, and that his sister having once sacrificed her
virtue, though it might be to the man she most loved, he would
never have consented to a reconciliation with her, but with the
hope of deriving some advantage from her past misconduct.

"It was easy to see that we had been hitherto his dupes.
Notwithstanding the disgust with which his proposition inspired
me, still, as I felt that I had occasion for his services, I
said, with apparent complacency, that we ought only to entertain
such a plan as a last resource. I begged of him to suggest some

"He proposed to me to turn my youth and the good looks nature
had bestowed upon me to some account, by establishing a liaison
with some generous old dame. This was just as little to my
taste, for it would necessarily have rendered me unfaithful to

"I mentioned play as the easiest scheme, and the most suitable
to my present situation. He admitted that play certainly was a
resource, but that it was necessary to consider the point well.
`Mere play,' said he, `with its ordinary chances, is the certain
road to ruin; and as for attempting, alone and without an ally,
to employ the little means an adroit man has for correcting the
vagaries of luck, it would be too dangerous an experiment.'
There was, he stated, a third course, which was to enter into
what he called a partnership; but he feared his confederates
would consider my youth an objection to my admittance. He,
however, promised to use his influence with them; and, what was
more than I expected at his hands, he said that he would supply
me with a little money whenever I had pressing occasion for any.
The only favour I then asked of him was to say nothing to Manon
of the loss I had experienced, nor of the subject of our

"I certainly derived little comfort from my visit to Lescaut; I
felt even sorry for having confided my secret to him: not a
single thing had he done for me that I might not just as well
have done for myself, without troubling him; and I could not help
dreading that he would violate his promise to keep the secret
from Manon. I had also reason to apprehend, from his late
avowals, that he might form the design of making use of her for
his own vile purposes, or at least of advising her to quit me for
some happier and more wealthy lover. This idea brought in its
train a thousand reflections, which had no other effect than to
torment me, and throw me again into the state of despair in which
I had passed the morning. It occurred to me, more than once, to
write to my father; and to pretend a new reformation, in order to
obtain some pecuniary assistance from him; but I could not forget
that, notwithstanding all his natural love and affection for me,
he had shut me up for six months in a confined room for my first
transgression; and I was certain that, after the scandalous
sensation caused by my flight from St. Sulpice, he would be sure
to treat me with infinitely more rigour now.

"At length, out of this chaos of fancies came an idea that all
at once restored ease to my mind, and which I was surprised at
not having hit upon sooner; this was, to go again to my friend
Tiberge, in whom I might be always sure of finding the same
unfailing zeal and friendship. There is nothing more
glorious--nothing that does more honour to true virtue, than the
confidence with which one approaches a friend of tried integrity;
no apprehension, no risk of unkind repulse: if it be not always
in his power to afford the required succour, one is sure at least
of meeting kindness and compassion. The heart of the poor
supplicant, which remains impenetrably closed to the rest of the
world, opens in his presence, as a flower expands before the orb
of day, from which it instinctively knows it can derive a
cheering and benign influence only.

"I consider it a blessing to have thought so apropos of Tiberge,
and resolved to take measures to find him before evening. I
returned at once to my lodgings to write him a line, and fix a
convenient place for our meeting. I requested secrecy and
discretion, as the most important service he could render me
under present circumstances.

"The pleasure I derived from the prospect of seeing Tiberge
dissipated every trace of melancholy, which Manon would not have
failed otherwise to detect in my countenance. I described our
misfortune at Chaillot as a trifle which ought not to annoy her;
and Paris being the spot she liked best in the world, she was not
sorry to hear me say that it would be necessary for us to remain
there entirely, until the little damage was repaired which had
been caused by the fire at Chaillot.

"In an hour I received an answer from Tiberge, who promised to
be at the appointed rendezvous. I went there punctually. I
certainly felt some shame at encountering a friend whose presence
alone ought to be a reproach to my iniquities; but I was
supported by the opinion I had of the goodness of his heart, as
well as by my anxiety about Manon.

"I had begged of him to meet me in the garden of the Palais
Royal. He was there before me. He hastened towards me, the
moment he saw me approach and shook me warmly by both hands. I
said that I could not help feeling perfectly ashamed to meet him,
and that I was weighed down by a sense of my ingratitude; that
the first thing I implored of him was to tell me whether I might
still consider him my friend, after having so justly incurred the
loss of his esteem and affection. He replied, in the kindest
possible manner, that it was not in the nature of things to
destroy his regard for me; that my misfortunes even, or, if he
might so call them, my faults and transgressions, had but
increased the interest he felt for me; but that he must confess
his affection was not unalloyed by a sentiment of the liveliest
sorrow, such as a person may be supposed to feel at seeing a
beloved object on the brink of ruin, and beyond the reach of his

"We sat down upon a bench. `Alas!' said I with a deep sigh,
`your compassion must be indeed great, my dear Tiberge, if you
assure me it is equal to my sufferings. I am almost ashamed to
recount them, for I confess they have been brought on by no very
creditable course of conduct: the results, however, are so truly
melancholy, that a friend even less attached than you would be
affected by the recital.'

"He then begged of me, in proof of friendship, to let him know,
without any disguise, all that had occurred to me since my
departure from St. Sulpice. I gratified him; and so far from
concealing anything, or attempting to extenuate my faults, I
spoke of my passion with all the ardour with which it still
inspired me. I represented it to him as one of those especial
visitations of fate, which draw on the devoted victim to his
ruin, and which it is as impossible for virtue itself to resist,
as for human wisdom to foresee. I painted to him in the most
vivid colours, my excitement, my fears, the state of despair in
which I had been two hours before I saw him, and into which I
should be again plunged, if I found my friends as relentless as
fate had been. I at length made such an impression upon poor
Tiberge, that I saw he was as much affected by compassion, as I
by the recollection of my sufferings.

"He took my hand, and exhorted me to have courage and be
comforted; but, as he seemed to consider it settled that Manon
and I were to separate, I gave him at once to understand that it
was that very separation I considered as the most intolerable of
all my misfortunes; and that I was ready to endure not only the
last degree of misery, but death itself, of the cruellest kind,
rather than seek relief in a remedy worse than the whole
accumulation of my woes.

"`Explain yourself, then,' said he to me; `what assistance can
I afford you, if you reject everything I propose?' I had not
courage to tell him that it was from his purse I wanted relief.
He, however, comprehended it in the end; and acknowledging that
he believed he now understood me, he remained for a moment in an
attitude of thought, with the air of a person revolving something
in his mind. `Do not imagine,' he presently said, `that my
hesitation arises from any diminution of my zeal and friendship;
but to what an alternative do you now reduce me, since I must
either refuse you the assistance you ask, or violate my most
sacred duty in affording it! For is it not participating in your
sin to furnish you with the means of continuing its indulgence?'

"`However,' continued he, after a moment's thought, `it is
perhaps the excited state into which want has thrown you, that
denies you now the liberty of choosing the proper path. Man's
mind must be at rest, to know the luxury of wisdom and virtue. I
can afford to let you have some money; and permit me, my dear
chevalier, to impose but one condition; that is, that you let me
know the place of your abode, and allow me the opportunity of
using my exertions to reclaim you. I know that there is in your
heart a love of virtue, and that you have been only led astray by
the violence of your passions.'

"I, of course, agreed to everything he asked, and only begged of
him to deplore the malign destiny which rendered me callous to
the counsels of so virtuous a friend. He then took me to a
banker of his acquaintance, who gave one hundred and seventy
crowns for his note of hand, which was taken as cash. I have
already said that he was not rich. His living was worth about
six thousand francs a year, but as this was the first year since
his induction, he had as yet touched none of the receipts, and it
was out of the future income that he made me this advance.

"I felt the full force of his generosity, even to such a degree
as almost to deplore the fatal passion which thus led me to break
through all the restraints of duty. Virtue had for a moment the
ascendancy in my heart, and made me sensible of my shame and
degradation. But this was soon over. For Manon I could have
given up my hopes of heaven, and when I again found myself at her
side, I wondered how I could for an instant have considered
myself degraded by my passion for this enchanting girl.

"Manon was a creature of most extraordinary disposition. Never
had mortal a greater contempt for money, and yet she was haunted
by perpetual dread of wanting it. Her only desire was for
pleasure and amusement. She would never have wished to possess a
sou, if pleasure could be procured without money. She never even
cared what our purse contained, provided she could pass the day
agreeably; so that, being neither fond of play nor at all dazzled
by the desire of great wealth, nothing was more easy than to
satisfy her, by daily finding out amusements suited to her
moderate wishes. But it became by habit a thing so absolutely
necessary for her to have her mind thus occupied, that, without
it, it was impossible to exercise the smallest influence over her
temper or inclinations. Although she loved me tenderly, and I
was the only person, as she often declared, in whose society she
could ever find the pure enjoyments of love, yet I felt
thoroughly convinced that her attachment could not withstand
certain apprehensions. She would have preferred me, even with a
moderate fortune, to the whole world; but I had no kind of doubt
that she would, on the other hand, abandon me for some new M. de
B----, when I had nothing more to offer her than fidelity and

"I resolved therefore so to curtail my own individual expenses,
as to be able always to meet hers, and rather to deprive myself
of a thousand necessaries than even to limit her extravagance.
The carriage made me more uneasy than anything else, for I saw no
chance of being able to maintain either coachman or horses.

"I told M. Lescaut of my difficulties, and did not conceal from
him that I had received a thousand francs from a friend. He
repeated, that if I wished to try the chances of the
gaming-table, he was not without hopes that, by spending a few
crowns in entertaining his associates, I might be, on his
recommendation, admitted into the association. With all my
repugnance to cheating, I yielded to dire necessity.

"Lescaut presented me that night as a relation of his own. He
added, that I was the more likely to succeed in my new
profession, from wanting the favours of fortune. However, to
show them that I was not quite reduced to the lowest ebb, he said
it was my intention to treat them with a supper. The offer was
accepted, and I entertained them en prince. They talked a good
deal about my fashionable appearance and the apparent amiability
of my disposition; they said that the best hopes might be
entertained of me, because there was something in my countenance
that bespoke the gentleman, and no one therefore could have a
suspicion of my honesty: they voted thanks to Lescaut for having
introduced so promising a novice, and deputed one of the members
to instruct me for some days in the necessary manoeuvres.

"The principal scene of my exploits was the hotel of
Transylvania, where there was a faro table in one room, and other
games of cards and dice in the gallery. This academy was kept by
the Prince of R----, who then lived at Clagny, and most of his
officers belonged to our society. Shall I mention it to my
shame? I profited quickly by my instructor's tuition. I
acquired an amazing facility in sleight of hand tricks, and
learned in perfection to sauter le coup; with the help of a pair
of long ruffles, I shuffled so adroitly as to defy the quickest
observer, and I ruined several fair players. My unrivalled skill
so quickened the progress of my fortunes, that I found myself
master, in a few weeks, of very considerable sums, besides what I
divided in good faith with my companions.

"I had no longer any fear of communicating to Manon the extent
of our loss at Chaillot, and, to console her on the announcement
of such disastrous news, I took a furnished house, where we
established ourselves in all the pride of opulence and security.

"Tiberge was in the habit, at this period, of paying me frequent
visits. He was never tired of his moral lectures. Over and over
again did he represent to me the injury I was inflicting upon my
conscience, my honour, and my fortune. I received all his advice
kindly, and although I had not the smallest inclination to adopt
it, I had no doubt of its sincerity, for I knew its source.
Sometimes I rallied him good-humouredly, and entreated him not to
be more tight-laced than some other priests were, and even
bishops, who by no means considered a mistress incompatible with
a good and holy life.' `Look,' I said, at Manon's eyes, and tell
me if there is one in the long catalogue of sins that might not
there find a plea of justification.' He bore these sallies
patiently, and carried his forbearance almost too far: but when
he saw my funds increase, and that I had not only returned him
the hundred and seventy crowns, but having hired a new house and
trebled my expenses, I had plunged deeper than ever into a life
of pleasure, he changed his tone and manner towards me. He
lamented my obduracy. He warned me against the chastisement of
the Divine wrath, and predicted some of the miseries with which
indeed I was shortly afterwards visited. `It is impossible,' he
said, `that the money which now serves to support your
debaucheries can have been acquired honourably. You have come by
it unjustly, and in the same way shall it be taken from you. The
most awful punishment Heaven could inflict would be to allow you
the undisturbed enjoyment of it. All my advice,' he added, `has
been useless; I too plainly perceive that it will shortly become
troublesome to you. I now take my leave; you are a weak, as well
as an ungrateful friend! May your criminal enjoyments vanish as
a shadow! may your ill-gotten wealth leave you without a
resource; and may you yourself remain alone and deserted, to
learn the vanity of these things, which now divert you from
better pursuits! When that time arrives, you will find me
disposed to love and to serve you; this day ends our intercourse,
and I once for all avow my horror of the life you are leading.'

"It was in my room and in Manon's presence that he delivered
this apostolical harangue. He rose to depart. I was about to
detain him; but was prevented by Manon, who said it was better to
let the madman go.

"What he said, however, did not fail to make some impression
upon me. I notice these brief passages of my life when I
experienced a returning sentiment of virtue, because it was to
those traces, however light, that I was afterwards indebted for
whatever of fortitude I displayed under the most trying

"Manon's caresses soon dissipated the annoyance this scene had
caused me. We continued to lead a life entirely devoted to
pleasure and love. The increase of our wealth only redoubled our
affection. There none happier among all the devotees of Venus
and Fortune. Heavens! why call this a world of misery, when it
can furnish a life of such rapturous enjoyment? But alas, it is
too soon over! For what ought man to sigh, could such felicity
but last for ever? Ours shared the common fate--in being of
short duration, and followed by lasting regrets.

"I had realised by play such a considerable sum of money, that I
thought of investing a portion of it. My servants were not
ignorant of my good luck, particularly my valet and Manon's own
maid, before whom we often talked without any reserve. The maid
was handsome, and my valet in love with her. They knew they had
to deal with a young and inexperienced couple, whom they fancied
they could impose upon without much difficulty. They laid a
plan, and executed it with so much skill, that they reduced us to
a state from which it was never afterwards possible for us to
extricate ourselves.

"Having supped one evening at Lescaut's, it was about midnight
when we returned home. I asked for my valet, and Manon for her
maid; neither one nor the other could be found. They had not
been seen in the house since eight o'clock, and had gone out,
after having some cases carried before them, according to orders
which they pretended to have received from me. I at once foresaw
a part of the truth, but my suspicions were infinitely surpassed
by what presented itself on going into my room. The lock of my
closet had been forced, and my cash as well as my best clothes
were gone. While I stood stupefied with amazement, Manon came,
in the greatest alarm, to inform me that her apartment had been
rifled in the same manner.

"This blow was so perfectly astounding, so cruel, that it was
with difficulty I could refrain from tears. The dread of
infecting Manon with my despair made me assume a more contented
air. I said, smiling, that I should avenge myself upon some
unhappy dupe at the hotel of Transylvania. However, she appeared
so sensibly affected, that her grief increased my sorrow
infinitely more than my attempt succeeded in supporting her
spirits. `We are destroyed!' said she, with tears in her eyes.
I endeavoured, in vain, by my entreaties and caresses, to console
her. My own lamentations betrayed my distress and despair. In
fact, we were so completely ruined, that we were bereft almost of
decent covering.

"I determined to send off at once for Lescaut. He advised me to
go immediately to the lieutenant of police, and to give
information also to the Grand Provost of Paris. I went, but it
was to add to my calamities only; for, independently of my visit
producing not the smallest good effect, I, by my absence, allowed
Lescaut time for discussion with his sister, during which he did
not fail to inspire her with the most horrible resolutions. He
spoke to her about M. G---- M----, an old voluptuary, who paid
prodigally for his pleasures; he so glowingly described the
advantages of such a connection, that she entered into all his
plans. This discreditable arrangement was all concluded before
my return, and the execution of it only postponed till the next
morning, after Lescaut should have apprised G---- M----.

"I found him, on my return, waiting for me at my house; but
Manon had retired to her own apartment, and she had desired the
footman to tell me that, having need of repose, she hoped she
should not be disturbed that night. Lescaut left me, after
offering me a few crowns which I accepted.

"It was nearly four o'clock when I retired to bed; and having
revolved in my mind various schemes for retrieving my fortunes, I
fell asleep so late that I did not awake till between eleven and
twelve o'clock. I rose at once to enquire after Manon's health;
they told me that she had gone out an hour before with her
brother, who had come for her in a hired carriage. Although
there appeared something mysterious in such a proceeding, I
endeavoured to check my rising suspicions. I allowed some hours
to pass, during which I amused myself with reading. At length,
being unable any longer to stifle my uneasiness, I paced up and
down the apartments. A sealed letter upon Manon's table at last
caught my eye. It was addressed to me, and in her handwriting.
I felt my blood freeze as I opened it; it was in these words:

I protest to you, dearest chevalier, that you are the idol of my
heart, and that you are the only being on earth whom I can truly
love; but do you not see, my own poor dear chevalier, that in the
situation to which we are now reduced, fidelity would be worse
than madness? Do you think tenderness possibly compatible with
starvation? For my part, hunger would be sure to drive me to
some fatal end. Heaving some day a sigh for love, I should find
it was my last. I adore you, rely upon that; but leave to me,
for a short while, the management of our fortunes. God help the
man who falls into my hands. My only wish is to render my
chevalier rich and happy. My brother will tell you about me; he
can vouch for my grief in yielding to the necessity of parting
from you.

"I remained, after reading this, in a state which it would be
difficult to describe; for even now I know not the nature of the
feelings which then agitated me. It was one of those unique
situations of which others can never have experienced anything
even approaching to similarity. It is impossible to explain it,
because other persons can have no idea of its nature; and one can
hardly even analyse it to oneself. Memory furnishes nothing that
will connect it with the past, and therefore ordinary language is
inadequate to describe it. Whatever was its nature, however, it
is certain that grief, hate, jealousy, and shame entered into its
composition. Fortunate would it have proved for me if love also
had not been a component part!

"`That she loves me,' I exclaimed, `I can believe; but could
she, without being a monster, hate me? What right can man ever
have to woman's affections which I had not to Manon's? What is
left to me, after all the sacrifices I have made for her sake?
Yet she abandons me, and the ungrateful creature thinks to screen
herself from my reproaches by professions of love! She pretends
to dread starvation! God of love, what grossness of sentiment!
What an answer to the refinement of my adoration! I had no dread
of that kind; I, who have almost sought starvation for her sake,
by renouncing fortune and the comforts of my father's house! I,
who denied myself actual necessaries, in order to gratify her
little whims and caprices! She adores me, she says. If you
adored me, ungrateful creature, I well know what course you would
have taken; you would never have quitted me, at least without
saying adieu. It is only I who can tell the pangs and torments,
of being separated from all one loves. I must have taken leave
of my senses, to have voluntarily brought all this misery upon

"My lamentations were interrupted by a visit I little expected;
it was from Lescaut. `Assassin!' cried I, putting my hand upon
my sword, `where is Manon? what have you done with her?' My
agitation startled him. He replied, that if this was the
reception he was to meet, when he came to offer me the most
essential service it was in his power to render me, he should
take his leave, and never again cross my threshold. I ran to the
door of the apartment, which I shut. `Do not imagine,' I said,
turning towards him, `that you can once more make a dupe of me
with your lies and inventions. Either defend your life, or tell
me where I can find Manon.' `How impatient you are!' replied he;
`that was in reality the object of my visit. I came to announce
a piece of good fortune which you little expected, and for which
you will probably feel somewhat grateful.' My curiosity was at
once excited.

"He informed me that Manon, totally unable to endure the dread
of want, and, above all, the certainty of being at once obliged
to dispense with her equipage, had begged of him to make her
acquainted with M. G---- M----, who had a character for
liberality. He carefully avoided telling me that this was the
result of his own advice, and that he had prepared the way before
he introduced his sister. `I took her there this morning,' said
he, `and the fellow was so enchanted with her looks that he at
once invited her to accompany him to his country seat, where he
is gone to pass some days. As I plainly perceived,' said
Lescaut, `the advantage it may be to you, I took care to let him
know that she had lately experienced very considerable losses;
and I so piqued his generosity that he began by giving her four
hundred crowns. I told him that was well enough for a
commencement, but that my sister would have, for the future, many
demands for money; that she had the charge of a young brother,
who had been thrown upon her hands since the death of our
parents; and that, if he wished to prove himself worthy of her
affections, he would not allow her to suffer uneasiness upon
account of this child, whom she regarded as part of herself.
This speech produced its effect, he at once promised to take a
house for you and Manon, for you must know that you are the poor
little orphan. He undertook to set you up in furniture, and to
give you four hundred livres a month, which if I calculate
rightly, will amount to four thousand eight hundred per annum.
He left orders with his steward to look out for a house, and to
have it in readiness by the time he returned. You will soon,
therefore, again see Manon, who begged of me to give you a
thousand tender messages, and to assure you that she loves you
more dearly than ever.'


Infected with that leprosy of lust,
Which taints the hoariest years of vicious men
Making them ransack to the very last
The dregs of pleasure for their vanished joys.


"On sitting down to reflect upon this strange turn of fate, I
found myself so perplexed, and consequently so incapable of
arriving at any rational conclusion, that I allowed Lescaut to
put repeated questions to me without in the slightest degree
attending to their purport. It was then that honour and virtue
made me feel the most poignant remorse, and that I recalled with
bitterness Amiens, my father's house, St. Sulpice, and every spot
where I had ever lived in happy innocence. By what a terrific
interval was I now separated from that blessed state! I beheld
it no longer but as a dim shadow in the distance, still
attracting my regrets and desires, but without the power of
rousing me to exertion. `By what fatality,' said I, `have I
become thus degraded? Love is not a guilty passion! why then has
it been to me the source of profligacy and distress? Who
prevented me from leading a virtuous and tranquil life with
Manon? Why did I not marry her before I obtained any concession
from her love? Would not my father, who had the tenderest regard
for me, have given his consent, if I had taken the fair and
candid course of soliciting him? Yes, my father would himself
have cherished her as one far too good to be his son's wife! I
should have been happy in the love of Manon, in the affection of
my father, in the esteem of the world, with a moderate portion of
the good things of life, and above all with the consciousness of
virtue. Disastrous change! Into what an infamous character is
it here proposed that I should sink? To share---- But can I
hesitate, if Manon herself suggests it, and if I am to lose her
except upon such conditions? `Lescaut,' said I, putting my hands
to my eyes as if to shut out such a horrifying vision, `if your
intention was to render me a service, I give you thanks. You
might perhaps have struck out a more reputable course, but it is
so settled, is it not? Let us then only think of profiting by
your labour, and fulfilling your engagements.'

"Lescaut, who had been considerably embarrassed, not only by my
fury, but by the long silence which followed it, was too happy to

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